The beginning of 2012 is here and the lookout is bright for renewable energy. There are some roadblocks ahead and some barriers we cannot yet see that will become clear. Overall, the renewable energy industries are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Here are the 7 trends and areas we’re watching closely in 2012. Each will have an impact on the ability of small companies to make money. Please take time to skim the list, provide feedback and pick out what pertains to your company and your situation.  These will be the prevailing topics, trends, and themes that HeatSpring will cover going in to 2012.
1. Increased regulation and credentials.
The rapid growth of the renewable energy industry has increased credentials manufacturers, property owners and local AJHs are looking to minimize risk. Here are the big items we see coming that will impact your businesses.

Fire Safety Training and Regulation. Local fire AHJ’s are becoming much more meticulous around permitting roof mounted solar PV arrays. Two items are causing AHJ’s to pay more attention to solar permitting and will require more diligence from integrators. First, a few high profile fires caused by solar arrays. Second, roof access requirements in case of a fire. A specific credential has not yet been released, nor have any additional regulations, but local fire departments are becoming more aware and better trained. For this reason, the Solar Energy Business Association of New England is hosting a Solar PV Systems and Fire Safety Event in February for their members and the public.
A New Commercial Roofing Certification. Expect an increase demand for the RISE Certification on commercial solar RFPs and projects. The certification is specifically for roofing contractors and professionals who will be working on commercial solar projects in order to make sure the existing roofing warranty is not voided. The rapid growth in the solar industry and a number of voided roof warranties due to solar installations, has caught the attention of national roofing manufacturers. Through the National Roofing Contractors Association and the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing, the RISE Certification has been created.
New Solar Thermal Credentials. The quick growth of the solar thermal industry has increased the demand for trained professionals. NABCEP has created a new entry-level solar thermal certification for new comers to the industry. If you’re a job hunter looking to get the certification, here is NABCEP’s list of approved providers.
As the geothermal industry grows, so do the relevance of two relatively new credentials. The IGSHPA Driller Certification and the Certified GeoExchange Designer certification. The main questions we’ve been answering about the new certification are the difference between the IGSHPA Installer and Driller certification and who should attend the designer certification. Especially with the Certified GeoExchange Designer, be prepared to start seeing requirements for these certifications on public and large private RPFs.
Is the Solar PV industry still lacking trained electricians?
Is there too much credentialing happening or will it increase the quality and technical ability of the industry?